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I'm a Liberal Democrat. I'm Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why.

11/17/2014 03:31 am ET | Updated Jan 17, 2015
  • H. A. Goodman Columnist published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Salon, The Jerusalem Post www.hagoodman.com
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The editor of Breitbart Unmasked, a site that I enjoy immensely and find informative, recently told me that supporting Rand Paul disqualifies a person from being labeled a progressive. My rebuttal was that he might be right. However, I also mentioned that Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia agreed with my latest Congress Blog piece. In the article, I explain why Rand Paul is correct in questioning the legality of President Obama's troop deployments. Sadly, people at UC Berkeley are more interested in protesting Bill Maher than condemning a conflict George McGovern stated weakens our country in the same manner as Vietnam. Hundreds of airstrikes, over 3,000 soldiers deployed, and a request for $5.6 billion is a war, folks.

Had President Mitt Romney just doubled our military presence in the Middle East and launched airstrikes that even the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army have criticized, the reaction would have been entirely different from liberals throughout the country. We once again have over 3,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq (without a peep from the anti-war left), only months after a VA crisis that caused veterans to die as they waited for health care, and about the same time as the publication of this book by an American general. To make matters worse, Congress is too cowardly to even debate the issue, despite calls for a discussion by Rand Paul. In the meantime, our values as a nation have succumb to fear mongering and paranoia.

Since 9/11, we've had to endure ideologues like Sean Hannity, a man who vehemently defends enhanced interrogation, yet is too chicken (insert the next word) to get waterboarded himself; even after promising on television that he would do so for charity. To prove that waterboaring is indeed torture, Christopher Hitchens actually did get waterboarded, yet the thought of nearly drowning apparently terrifies Fox's tough, football throwing host. Even petitions calling for Hannity to back up the bravado, or the fact that such interrogation methods endanger U.S. soldiers and besmirch our value system, haven't been enough to alter the conservative view of this un-American tool of statecraft. Alas, only Selsun Blue and unicorn tears, not water being poured onto his smug face wrapped in cloth and gasping for oxygen, will ever grace the Fred Flinstone-like visage of Sean Hannity.

In contrast, Rand Paul has called for the GOP to reject Dick Cheney for defending torture and asserted that Cheney helped launch the Iraq War to profit Halliburton. Only Rand Paul provides a voice for people disgusted by the fear peddlers on Fox, the tepid rebuttals to their madness by leading liberals like Hillary Clinton, and the media driven paranoia that shapes public policy. Today, over 40 percent of Americans favor ground troops in Iraq, just several years removed from the end of a deadly counterinsurgency war. Upholding Obamacare is important, but pales in comparison to the prospect of perpetual American military involvement in the Middle East or the destruction of our value system because of terrorism.

Rand Paul is my candidate in 2016, even though the Tea Party would consider me Joseph Stalin's love child. I'm for immigration reform and believe that illegal immigrants benefit this country. I've written many articles criticizing Tea Party paranoia. I'm against demagoguery from people like Paul Ryan who unfairly target inner city citizens and I'm for the federal legalization of gay marriage and marijuana. I think Ted Cruz is a buffoon and that we should listen to Stephen Hawking over Senator "Green Eggs and Ham" on climate change. Finally, I've also written two novels about the evils of religious fundamentalism and political demagoguery.

On all these possible points of contention with Rand Paul, the reality is that he isn't Ted Cruz or Lou Dobbs on these matters. Sen. Paul is a self-described "moderate" on immigration, much to the dismay of Tea Party Republicans. Paul's recent Bill Maher interview shows he's open to cleaner energy alternatives. Most importantly, Paul doesn't abide by the right-wing rhetoric blaming poor people for their predicament, or claiming God wants people to do this or that. Congress at the end of the day has the power of the purse, so if President Rand Paul scares you on economic matters, simply remember that only Congress can repeal or alter government programs and decide on budgets.

I've never voted for a Republican in my life, but in 2016, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will be my choice for president. On issues that affect the long-term survival of this country; grandiose concerns like perpetual war that could send generations of Americans fighting and dying in the Middle East, domestic spying that could eventually lead to a police state, and numerous other topics, Rand Paul has shown that he bucks both the Republican and Democratic penchant for succumbing to public opinion, an overreaction to the terror threat, and a gross indifference to an egregious assault on our rights as citizens.

Yes, I'll have to concede some of my beliefs and roll the dice as to whether or not he'll flip-flop on issues, but Hillary Clinton and President Obama have changed their views on everything from gay marriage to marijuana legalization and Iraq, so I'm taking an educated gamble with Sen. Paul. Hillary Clinton alone has gone back and forth on enough issues to make the former Secretary of State a human version of Pong, so I'm not too worried about voting for Paul. Below are ten reasons this Democrat is voting for Rand Paul in 2016 and if my liberal membership card is revoked, I'll live with that; I'm not an ideologue like Sean Hannity, I'm an American.

1. Rand Paul will be more cautious with waging war than Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. Sen. Paul has called Obama's ISIS war illegal and isn't against defending American interests through military intervention, but stresses the importance of Congress making these decisions. Hillary Clinton, in contrast, thinks we should have armed the Syrian rebel groups several years ago. Try naming even one of the Syrian rebel groups and explaining their differences with ISIS. Furthermore, The Week states that "Clinton's instincts appear to be far more hawkish than Barack Obama's." Imagine a more hawkish Obama and you'll get the next President Clinton. Also, famed neocon Robert Kagan is one of Clinton's advisers and states in The New York Times, "I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy." That should tell you how liberal Clinton will be on matters of perpetual war in the Middle East.

2. The Los Angeles Times has referred to Paul as "one of the foremost critics of the government's domestic spying program." In early 2014, Sen. Paul filed a lawsuit against the NSA over domestic spying. Neither Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, nor any other candidate in 2016 has made this a top priority in their campaign. Sen. Paul has also voted against PATRIOT Act Extension bills, voted for an amendment that prohibits detention of U.S. citizens without trial (which of course didn't pass the Senate), and his voting record protects American citizens from politicians paranoid over terrorism. Sen. Paul was vehemently against the NDAA Indefinite Detention Bill that passed in 2013, because, "This bill takes away that right and says that if someone thinks you're dangerous, we will hold you without a trial. It's an abomination."

3. Rand Paul has teamed up with liberal Democratic Sen. Cory Booker to reform the criminal justice system. Their bill would improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who've been adversely affected by non-violent criminal sentences. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush don't care about reforming the criminal justice system, and if they do, it's on the bottom of their to do lists, far behind cozying up to Wall Street and increasing America's military presence in the Middle East.

4. POLITICO states Hillary Clinton is "Wall Street Republicans' dark secret" in 2016. I don't see Clinton as being any more liberal than Paul on Wall Street or banking, although perhaps she'd be more willing to save failed corporations than the Kentucky Senator. Also, Paul is one of the few Republicans who's addressed the GOP's love affair with corporations, stating that, "We cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street...corporate welfare should once and for all be ended."

5. Sen. Paul thinks Edward Snowden was treated unfairly as a whistleblower and should have only spent "a few years" in prison. No other candidate in 2016 would dare take that position. The Wall Street Journal criticized Paul's position on the Snowden matter, and their criticism actually makes me like Rand Paul in 2016 even more. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is "puzzled" why Snowden would want to leave the U.S. and feels he might have helped terrorists with his disclosures.

6. Rand Paul publicized the issue of a possible government drone strike, on American soil, against American citizens. No, I'm not making this up. I don't want to get blown up eating a burrito at Chipotle because I visited Egypt to see the pyramids and happened to sit in a café frequented by a terrorist. In 2013, Rand Paul asked Eric Holder whether or not American citizens could be targeted by drones on American soil. Jon Stewart has a great segment about this. Eric Holder actually answered that theoretically, yes, drone strikes to kill Americans on U.S. soil could be viewed as legal, depending on the circumstance. If this doesn't frighten you, then vote for Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, since neither one cares about this matter. Issues like drone strikes on American soil, against Americans, is why I don't believe in conspiracy theories. This sort of thing is being discussed today in plain sight, yet only Rand Paul and a few others have shown outrage over the potential of our government to possibly target its own citizens. If it's not an ISIL beheading video, nobody seems to care nowadays.

7. Rand Paul could bring back an era in American politics when conservatives and liberals socialized with one another. This alone would solve some of the gridlock in Washington. Paul has worked with 7 leading Democrats on a number of issues; working on everything from judicial reform, NSA surveillance, the limits of presidential authority to launch strikes in Iraq, and other issues. Imagine Ted Cruz reaching out to Nancy Pelosi, or Mitch McConnell having lunch with Hillary Clinton. Rand Paul, on the other hand, has worked to emulate this picture.

8. Rand Paul will not gut the economic safety nets of this country in the manner espoused by Paul Ryan and others. He doesn't want to dismantle Social Security. I do disagree with his view of the SNAP Program and certain other issues. However, Paul has stated, "I'm for a social safety net, but it should be minimized to helping those who can't help themselves." I don't ever recall Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan making that type of statement and mainstream Republicans do everything in their power to promote the view that safety nets equate to communism or socialism.

9. Neoconservatives hate Rand Paul. They like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush a lot more, and The Weekly Standard, National Review, and others have voiced their reservations about a Rand Paul presidency. If neocons disagree with you, then you must be doing something right.

10. Rand Paul could be the answer to our philosophical conundrum as a nation. We're stuck with a GOP who thinks the globe is one giant Stratego board game with God helping roll the dice, a Democratic Party more focused on defending Obamacare than stopping endless wars or protecting civil liberties, and a populace that cares more about beheading videos than the erosion of rights or the welfare of our warriors. Is Paul the answer? I'm not certain. But compared to Hillary and Jeb Bush, I'll take the man who stated, "I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East."

If Rand Paul picks Mike Huckabee as his running mate, I'll "evolve" towards Hillary. However, if Rand Paul picks someone reasonable who possesses his value system, I'll take my chances. President Rand Paul will be a nice change from Bush 2.0, Bush in a pantsuit, and especially Bush's brother. In 2016, I want someone who can protect us from ourselves and protect us from the media/terrorist driven fear that keeps America in endless war and allows attorney generals to rationalize a drone strike on American soil. Paul was also the first 2016 contender to visit Ferguson, and for some reason I just can't imagine Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush taking a moment to find out why Ferguson took place, and what steps are needed to solve that intractable situation.